The Magic of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus at night

The Herodion Atticus is a part of my daily life. I initially met it every morning as I climbed to my workplace - the Acropolis (I am a Conservator of Antiquities and works of Art), when I was working on restorations at the old museum monument. Now I meet it every time when I walk in the Areopagitou’s pedestrian.

HISTORY OF THE HERODION ATTICUS

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus - a stone theatre structure located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens, was built in the 2nd century AD. It was only active for 105 years, because it was destroyed (along with other buildings) in the 3rd century AD by the Herulis - an east Germanic tribe. It was then turned into a fortress of the Acropolis. In subsequent centuries, defensive embankments were made which almost made it disappear.For many centuries no one knew the function of this building, as only a small part of it was was above the surface of the earth. The first excavations began in 1848 and continued through to 1857. Severe restoration began once again after the Second World War. The new bleachers consisted of Pentelic marble (the same marble as in the Parthenon)while the orchestra consists of Hymettus marble.Today, this magnificent building is used for beautiful music nights and interesting theatrical performances organized by the Athens Festival.

MAGI CAL PERFORMANCES AT THE HERODION ATTICUS

I visited the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (also known as the Herodion Atticus) for the first time in 2004. At the time Greece still had the glamour of the Olympic Games. On my first visit I enjoyed an evening of Balkan music. Melodies from Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece flooded the Attic sky under the lights of the AcropolisIt was an unforgettable night. 

I felt lucky to enjoy a magical evening on Friday, September 26.Those of us that night on the marble stands of Herod Atticus enjoyed the beautiful melodies of the Italian composer, Ludovico Einaudi.

The day didn't start well. The weather forecast indicated that we would have an unstable weather which will start from Friday with heavy rains. We were all in agony about whether the show will be held. The afternoon came with thunder. The organizers told us to go to the Conservatory where a decision will be made. The clouds started dissolving as the night was coming.The doors opened. The show will take place.The Odeon was overcrowded.

The lights went out and the musicians appeared. Then the composer was presented and he received a warm applause. I closed my eyes for a moment to enjoy the sweet melodies. But something caught my interest. During the show, large clouds passed over the Odeon. Their surface reflected the light of the city. A special light came from the sky and lit up the whole area. In the darkness I could see all the people. It was an indescribable moment. During the night I could see the emotion of each listener.

The Herodion Atticus.jpg

The shadow of the violinist was dancing along the ancient wall of the Odeon. Then a special machine presented thousands of stars in the orchestra. The magic was everywhere. A two-hour journey time.

Leaving, I realized that the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is more important than the concert halls. It is a building that is carrying a great history, but above all it was created with the wisdom of the ancients who loved music so much and they knew very well about acoustics. But above all, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus has retained its own magic. 

It is a great honor for any lover of classical performances to enjoy one in this Odeon. If someone plans to visit Athens, I would recommend a look of the cultural programme of the festival of Athens to combine the visits to the museums of the city with a beautiful music or theatrical evening at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. You will not regret it.

See the magical performances at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus here and here.